Game 2: Kings 3, Canucks 2 (overtime)
The Kings responded to their Game One overtime loss to the Canucks by showing they have a flair for the dramatic. After being down two goals in a lackluster first period, the Kings battled back to tie the game, then push it to overtime, where Anze Kopitar scored to send the teams back to L.A. with the series all knotted up.
After Game One, Terry Murray decided he needed a change at the top of the lineup. So he made Justin Williams a healthy scratch. He moved Wayne Simmonds up to the top line which, in turn, allowed Fredrik Modin to skate on the line with Michal Handzus and Brad Richardson. Scott Parse filled in at the bottom of the lineup, skating with Jim Halpren. Murray also replaced Raitis Ivanans and Randy Jones with Richard Clune and Peter Harrold.
It was suggested by the Hammer that adding a gritty player like Simmonds to the top line and mixing the lines a bit would open up the game. It did and then some.
At first, the Kings came out and exceeded their intensity from the previous game. You could tell by their body language that they felt they should have won Game One. They outshot the Canucks, 8-4, and showed a lot of hustle. The only problem was the Canucks scored twice on Jonathan Quick. Twice, out of four shots. Things didn't look good for L.A.
After the second goal to Vancouver's Mikael Samuelsson (his third of the playoffs), you could tell the Kings lost some steam. The game, which was played at a fevered pitch for half the period, slowed considerably. It was almost as if the club reassessed how they should attack the deep and dangerous Canucks. They could run and gun with Vancouver for a while, but Vancouver has too many experienced weapons to sustain such an attack. So the Kings decided to sit back and wait for Stick In a Box to make a mistake.
They got that mistake when Shane O'Brien was called for roughing Richard Clune. Drew Doughty held in a Canuck clearing pass, and passed it to Dustin Brown. The Captain spotted a charging Jack Johnson and sent a cross-ice pass to him. Luongo was able to stop the shot, but couldn't control the rebound, which allowed the Triple Gold Club member to pop it in for his second power play goal of the playoffs, and brought the Kings within one.
35 seconds later, as the Canucks tried to pull themselves together, the top line struck. The Canucks were buzzing around Jonathan Quick, when the puck worked its way to the boards. Anze Kopitar snatched the puck and streaked up the right side. Thanks to a tripped-up Sami Salo, the Kings's top line got a three-on-one and skated in on Luongo. Smyth was skating on the left side with Simmonds close behind, which gave Kopitar a lot of options. Kopitar held onto the puck, just as Smyth collided with Alexander Edler in front of Luongo. Kopitar hit Simmonds, who scored easily on the one-timer to tie the game.
Two bang-bang plays showed how opportunistic the young Kings are. After the Simmonds goal, the game settled down for the rest of the period and into the third. The Canucks seemed stunned, and could only muster five shots. The youthful Kings had all the momentum, continuing their attack on Bobby Lu with 11 shots in the third. And for the eighth time this month, the Kings remained unbeaten in regulation and headed to sudden death overtime.
Once again, the Kings played sound defense as Vancouver found their second wind. But that wind was deflated when Stick in The Box was called for too many men on the ice after a lackadaisical line change, when the puck hit Kevin Bieksa as he was skating off the ice. And Kopitar notched the game-winner, with a little help from Luongo's stick. Kopitar took a shot from the left side, which was deflected by to him. The big Slovenian took a second whack at the puck, which was accidentally knocked into the goal by the butt end of the goalie's stick.
The Kings celebrated in front of a stunned General Motors Place, as did their beleaguered fan base. The last time the Kings won a playoff game was April 27, 2002, when Glen Murray scored in the second overtime of a scoreless game against the Colorado Avalanche. Who would have thought that it would take this long to get back into the playoffs?
It goes to show you that you should never take winning for granted. That's hard to do in the City of Angels, when you have one of the most winningest franchises in all of sports down the hall at Staples Center. Kings fans should savor this satisfying win as the series heads back to Staples for Game Three.
Game 2: Kings 3, Canucks 2 (overtime)